So, I seem to have not been on the right RSS feed, because I totally missed the memo that ZigTag finally launched at the end of 2008. I had signed up for the restricted Beta some time ago (there were 500 or so participants), and was awaiting the live version anxiously. ZigTag is a tagging/bookmarking tool that uses “defined” tags, whereby users choose from a controlled set of tags (through auto-complete) with semantic distinctions managed in a knowledge base.
For example, if you start typing in “Ital…”, it will start populating a drop-down of choices asking you if you mean, Ital (Rastafarian food), Italy (the country), Italian (Culture of Italy), etc. If there are multiple versions of one word (synonyms), they use parenthetical qualifiers to define them. Hovering over a term also brings up definitions (brought in from Wikipedia).
I think this tool is a great example of a hybrid between taxonomy and folksonomy… or even between ontology and folksonomy. We are able to eliminate many of the ptifalls of social tagging, such as:
- Tag quality: misspellings, concatenations, personal tags
- Lack of semantic meaning/relationships
The type-ahead lowers the cognitive burden, giving it a feel of free social tagging but enforcing consistency and precision that most tagging systems lack.
It also can leverage the semantic relationships between terms (in the example below, a search on Italy also brings up Rome, Florence, etc.)
If you’re interested in hybrid approaches to folksonomy and taxonomy/ontology, I’ll be speaking at the Semantic Technology conference in June (14-18, San Jose CA) on the topic. You can also check out some of the research going on around MOAT (Meaning of a tag), RDF, linked data, etc. You can also check out Faviki, which is similar to ZigTag.